Pork belly bossam and ssamjang (Courtesy of Diana Kang)
Boiled pork belly is a must menu item whenever a large number of people get together to celebrate or just to enjoy a meal at home. It comes from a long Korean tradition of having to prepare at least one or two meat dishes to entertain properly. No celebration was complete without a boiled pork dish, especially in the Jeolla provinces in the southern part of the peninsula. When presented with a variety of fresh leafy vegetables and ssamjang, it definitely takes center stage on any table.
In making this dish, it is essential that you start with a very meaty and fresh pork belly. Otherwise, your meat could have a strong porky smell which is not appetizing. I add a lot of ingredients to the boiling stock to further remove this unattractive odor. Believe it or not, instant black coffee does wonders.
We usually make this pork belly when we are making kimchi. Since we already have the salted cabbage and the seasoned radish, we only have to boil the pork to make a full pork bossam dish. As such, it has become a tradition to serve bossam during the kimchi-making day.
Boiled Pork Belly
2 chunks of pork belly, about 600 grams each
2 liters of water
5 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons of Korean fermented bean sauce or doenjang
1 medium sized onion
2 stalks of large green onions
5 pieces of whole garlic
3 pieces of bay leaves
2 tablespoons of instant black coffee
10 pieces of whole black pepper
Soak pork belly in cold water for about 1 hour to drain blood.
In a large stock pot, add water and all other ingredients.
When it starts to boil, add the pork belly and cook in high heat for 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook for another 40 minutes. Meat is done when a chopstick goes in easily. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into bite-sized slices. Pork belly can be boiled a day before and left in its juice until ready to serve. Heat it once more before slicing. Serve with ssamjang and leafy vegetables.
Ssamjang (Courtesy of Diana Kang)
Ssamjang or ssam sauce
Ssam is a Korean word for wrap and jang means sauce. Hence, ssamjang is a sauce that is used with wraps.
As Koreans like to wrap most of our meat or fish with fresh leafy vegetables, ssamjang is a must item to have on hand. I usually make a lot at once and store it in the refrigerator, to be used throughout the year. This can also be used as a dip for various fresh vegetable sticks and as a spread to spice up your sandwiches.
3 tablespoons gochujang
3 tablespoons Japanese miso
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Mix all ingredients well. Chopped almonds, peanuts or pine nuts can be added for flavor. This will keep well in refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Leftover pork belly can be frozen and used at a later date. Stir fry with onions, cabbage, and carrots with some ssamjang and it will make a tasty option for pairing with Korean rice wine.
Happy cooking and happier eating!
Diana's Table Logo (Courtesy of Diana Kang)
Diana Kang is a lifestyle content creator specializing in Korean food and food culture. She has worked as an executive producer of the PBS series on Korean food, “Kimchi Chronicles,” and has written regular columns on celebrity chefs, specialty ingredients and family recipes. --Ed.
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